The Cambodian-French filmmaker’s latest film “Return to Seoul” has been selected as Cambodia’s official entry for the international feature category at the 2023 Academy Awards and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best international film.
Chou wrote and directed the film, which follows Freddie (Park Ji-Min), a 25-year-old French woman who returns to Korea, where she was born before being adopted, for the very first time. When she decides to track down her biological parents, her journey takes a surprising turn.
The movie premiered in the Un Certain Regard section at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics (and subsequently renamed from “All the People I’ll Never Be”). The film went on to screen at TIFF, the NYFF and more than 60 festivals, including award-winning showings at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, Athens International Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival and the Belfast Film Festival.
In her review for Variety, Jessica Kiang praised the film for its “audaciously interrupted storytelling,” noting that it “represents a step up in ambition from the woozily atmospheric yet comparatively simple narrative of Chou’s fiction feature debut, ‘Diamond Island’ … But while ‘Return to Seoul’ is more sharply focused in its minutiae, over its near two-hour length it accumulates a similarly heady, evocative mood: wistful without being wishy-washy; bittersweet without the slightest hint of twee.”
The grandson of Cambodian producer Van Chann, Chou made his directorial debut with the 2011 documentary “Golden Slumbers,” which was selected for the Forum Berlinale, followed by the 2014 short film “Cambodia 2099,” which premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes. His first feature, 2016’s “Diamond Island,” won the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD) Prize in Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as awards at the Mumbai International Film Festival, Cinemasia Amsterdam and the Namur International Film Festival.
In 2009, Chou co-founded the French production company Vycky Films, and in 2014 he co-founded the Cambodian production company Anti-Archive, both of which aim to support emerging Cambodian filmmakers. In further support of that mission, Chou also established the Echoes From Tomorrow project, which assists first-time female Cambodian directors by producing their short film, and is the founder of the film collective Kon Khmer Koun Khmer.
In addition to CAA and Anonymous Content, Chou will continue to be represented by UBBA Agency in France.